Once a Runner: A Novel Paperback – 27 Aug 2015
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“Part training manual, part religious tract, part love story, and all about running, Once a Runner is so inspiring it could be banned as a performance-enhancing drug.” —Benjamin Cheever, author of Strides
“By far the most accurate fictional portrayal of the world of the serious runner…a marvelous description of the way it really is.” —Kenny Moore, Sports Illustrated
“The best piece of running fiction around. Beg, borrow, or buy a copy, and you’ll never need another motivator.” —Dave Langlais, Runner’s World
"The best novel ever written about running."--Runner's World
About the Author
John L. Parker, Jr. has written for Outside, Runner’s World, and numerous other publications. He was the Southeastern Conference mile champion three times, and the United States Track and Field Federation national champion in the steeplechase, and was the teammate of Olympians Frank Shorter, Jack Bacheler, and Jeff Galloway on several championship cross-country teams. A graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism as well as its College of Law, Parker has been a practicing attorney, a newspaper reporter and columnist, a speechwriter for then Governor Bob Graham, and editorial director of Running Times magazine. He lives in Gainesville, Florida, and Bar Harbor, Maine.See all Product description
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The story follows a university student (Quenton Cassidy) and his running team mates through a period of heavy training during which they are embroiled in a sporting controversy which leads to Cassidy being sidelined on the track just when the world mile record holder is going to be competing at a local meet. Can he get himself readmitted onto the track and if not will he miss this date with destiny? Sorry for being a little vague here- but I think giving away too much of the plot will ruin the story.
The story is sold in certain quarters at "part training manual...religious tract...love story," so let me say at this juncture that if you want a training manual read 'The Lore of Running', if you want a religious tract try an actual Holy Text; as for love story...I'm not sure that a character actually explicitly expresses love or ardour at any point in the book! It's all about running...and if you like running you will probably enjoy it.
But it does have quite a few weaknesses. The central characters are very weakly pencilled in and I found it hard to sympathise with Cassidy for much of the book- we don't learn about his background and near death experience until we are almost 3/4 of the way through the book. As a a result its hard to really care about what happens to him. Similarly his budding romance is so vaguely dealt with that when he breaks up with his girlfriend you almost don't know it has happened. A lot of the language in other parts is also so abstract and abstruse that you struggle to figure out what characters are really getting at.
Certainly the book has its quirky and laugh out loud funny bits, and I think that there is a certain Catch-22 feeling about some of the absurd and pompous characters that inhabit the pages.
When I got to the end, I realised that there was a sequel and read the excerpts (2 chapters) supplied and found that it seemed to be better written than the original and so will probably go ahead and read it.
Is this, as the cover says, "the best novel ever written about running"?- well it's hard to say given its the only novel about running that I have read- but its certainly one I wont forget and may even read again after an interval.
Read this book...you'll be forever
changed. It describes a fictitious collegiate
track program with some very colorful
characters. Their tales and traumas
boil down the essence of running.
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